(Maguire poses for the cameras following his unanimous decision victory over Justin Edwards at UFC 138. Photo via David Lethaby.)
By CagePotato contributor Ben Cartlidge
UFC 138 marked the organization’s first trip to the UK in 2011 and delivered a card not packed with stars but instead with explosive potential.
The gap between the UK and the rest of the world in terms of wrestling is obvious to see but, that night in Birmingham, the fighter who scored the most takedowns wasn’t an NCAA champion with a decorated collegiate career.
Cambridge’s John “The One” Maguire outscored his opponent Justin Edwards 6-0 in the takedown stakes en route to a unanimous decision victory and quickly attracted the attention of the fighting community with his spirited performance.
I caught up with Maguire as he recollected on the single biggest fight of his career.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: Congratulations on your first win in the UFC and what surely must have been the biggest win in your career. Looking back it all now for a second; what are your recollections about that fight and the UFC experience in general?
JOHN MAGUIRE: I’m over the moon with the fight and how it went. I would have liked to have finished it but the experience was what I thought it would be. It was amazing and I loved being there. I was really nervous and I wasn’t planning on getting dropped (laughs) but it woke me up bit to be honest with you and it really got me going.
Did it take you long then to settle into the fight? I mean you never want to get dropped if you can avoid it but did that shot help you to switch on and focus?
Yeah because I was in there from the start and I just thought to myself I’m in here. When I took that shot though I realised that I was in a fight not just in the UFC. Once I got my senses back together I thought to myself that there’s no way that I’m losing this fight now and plus I think it was good for people to see that I can take a shot and then come back from it and still win the round.
A lot of people were impressed by your performance and particularly the wrestling that you displayed. How long have you been working on wrestling and where have the opportunities come from?
My camp, Tsunami Gym, is known in the UK for having great wrestlers like Robbie Olivier and Pierre Guillet and we’ve also got a lot of American guys over who’re great wrestlers and train with us all the time. I went straight to mma in 2005 and my first fight was 2006 but the camp had some great wrestlers and Judo guys as well so I’ve had a grappling focus on my training for a very long time.
Has the increase in attention from fans and also from the mma media been strange to deal with on your part? You’ve been fighting domestically for a very long time now but is this new attention on another level?
It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in my career and a lot more people are taking notice of what I’m doing and looking back at my older fights which is great. A lot of people in the UK have watched my fights and know what I’ve done over here so it’s good to get my fights out to new people. I’m happy with getting the win and the performance in general but I really wanted that finish. I want to show the fans that I’m better than that performance and I didn’t show what I can do with my hands but the support and recognition has been fantastic.
Recognition has come from both fans and fighters alike it seems as Vitor Belfort sent you a tweet saying he was impressed with your fight and asking you to come out and train with him. Will you be taking him up on that offer?
In future fights I’d like to train at a few different places to develop my skills but not all the time. Maybe if I’ve got a fight coming up overseas I’d go out a few weeks beforehand to finish a camp up and add a few different things and it’s amazing to get offers from people like Vitor Belfort.
At the post fight conference I saw Dana White come up to you and congratulate you on your fight. When you first started back in 2005 did you ever think the time would come when that would happen to you?
No I didn’t but it’s what I’ve always wanted. Me and my brother sit and watch every UFC together and it was always the dream. Some days you train well and think that it’s going to happen and others you don’t and you’ll tell yourself that you’re never going to get there. It was a dream for that to happen and for Joe Silva to come up to me and say that was a great fight was also amazing. I’ve worked hard at this and I feel like I deserve to be here and I’m just glad the reaction was good from the fans and the commentators. I was also happy to sit on the press table for the conference and it was all a really big honour for someone like me.
So at that press conference then there was talk of a lot more European events in 2012 with more to the UK and potentially one in Sweden. Do European fights interest you at this point in your career or do you want to make it over to America?
I’d love to fight in America. That’s always been a big goal of mine but I’d also really like to fight in Sweden as well. I’m just really happy to be in this position and I’ve trained a lot in Sweden in the past so it’d be nice to get back out there and especially because that show will be the first ever show for the UFC in Sweden so it’d be good to be involved with that.
Would you take a fight against another Brit then if it was offered?
It depends if it’s a big fight against somebody well know then I would but there’s enough people from all around the world for me to fight in the meantime. If it’s a ranked fighter then it’d make sense for me but the UFC have got more great fighters than anyone else so there’ll be no shortage of people to get in there with I’m sure.
Yeah those fights would make sense to me at the moment but like I said there’s no shortage of great Americans, Brazilians, Canadians and people from everywhere else so I’m open on that one.
Ok speaking of Canadians then; you’ve got to pick between George St-Pierre and Brett “The Hitman” Hart. Who takes it?
Hahaha I’m going for Brett Hart. He’d find a way to lock on the Sharpshooter.
I don’t think I can top that one John so thanks again for your time and the best of luck in the future.
Thanks a lot mate and I just want to say thanks to all my team and everyone who’s got behind me for this one, to my sponsors, to MMAHQ.com and everyone else who’s helped me.